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Dating violence no game, South Allegheny student assembly shows

| Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 4:36 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
South Allegheny High School's Expect Respect played 'Family Feud' and 'Jeopardy' at an assembly to raise awareness about dating violence.
South Allegheny School District
South Allegheny's Expect Respect partnered with Glassport Crime Watch, Glassport Development Authority and Glassport Senior Citizens to solicit donations for the Center for Victims.

The Bruno Mars song “Just the Way You Are” gets a thumbs up when it comes to describing a positive romantic relationship. That's not the case for the song “Tell Me Why” by Taylor Swift, which describes a physically abusive one.

The lyrical content of the two pop songs was brought into focus Wednesday during an afternoon assembly at South Allegheny High School, sponsored by the school's Expect Respect club.

The student group is committed to promoting positive behavior patterns in the community. It examined the two songs and other hits while presenting a “Jeopardy”-styled quiz featuring questions about dating behavior.

Other topics included things to do or not to do in a relationship, and dating violence statistics.

Students who participated in that, and another based on the game show “Family Feud,” guessed correctly that prohibiting a partner from seeing other people constitutes abusive behavior, and that offering a smile to someone is one way of paying respect.

Students watching the event from the audience appeared to be engaged by the assembly, which was part of the school's observance of Teen Dating Violence and Prevention Awareness Month.

Expect Respect member senior Nick Hawkins said the idea behind the game show format was to get the audience involved with the discussion of what constitutes good behavior toward others.

“We want people to be able to recognize signs of unhealthy relationships,” Hawkins said.

Student band Roll of the Dice kept the program rocking. Between the games, students showed a video shot at the high school in which students identified basic rights that those involved in relationships should expect from their partners.

Expect Respect is a program overseen by the Center for Victims based in McKeesport. South Allegheny is one of eight districts that participate.

Counselors from the center visit the high school weekly.

Dave Wingerson, one of the program's counselors, said such programs can make a difference in people's lives.

“Twenty years ago, domestic violence was something that was in the shadows,” he said. “Nowadays, people are more willing to speak up.”

Program counselor Brittany Elms said she believes it's not just students who benefit.

“There are teachers who have referred students to us,” she said.

Pam Fetch, a nurse at the high school, said the group's message of respect seems to be making a difference.

“The teachers have communicated that they see a difference,” Fetch said. “It's impacting South Allegheny in a positive way.”

Glassport Crime Watch coordinator Angelo Norelli said the group is reaching beyond the school district and into the community. Expect Respect members attend the anti-crime group's meetings and have been involved with the crime watch on special projects.

The student group and crime watch program presented housewares and personal items collected during a recent drive in the borough for Center for Victims.

Norelli said the Glassport Senior Citizens Center, Glassport Development Corp. and others in the community donated brooms, mops, diapers and other useful items.

The groups were recognized for the donation at the assembly.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1966, or